E-Commerce Fulfillment Tips
16 Tips For E-Commerce Fulfillment To Make Your Life Easier
Many e-commerce companies start small with a few customers and a manual shipping process. As you grow, you will need to scale up your approach to packing and shipping items. Once you are shipping out more than 3,000 orders per day, manual fulfillment becomes impossible. Switching to automated shipping or programs like Amazon FBA can help you to boost the efficiency of your e-commerce benefit. In addition, it helps you to maximize your returns while limiting the handling cost per shipped item. While some of the items on this list are designed to boost your shipping speed, other techniques like gift wrapping can help to improve your customer’s experience. Maximize your efficiency and business success by using these 16 e-commerce fulfillment strategies.
Use Amazon FBA for Fast, Efficient Order Fulfillment
Amazon is legendary for their e-commerce fulfillment. Shipments are securely packed, fulfilled quickly, and the customer receives a notification with tracking information. These three steps help to streamline the process and improve the customer’s experience. Even smaller companies can mimic this approach through software programs for multi-carrier shipping and order management. If you cannot copy Amazon, you can use their services to fulfill your orders. Amazon FBA is a program that allows you to store your products within Amazon’s fulfillment centers. When the item is ordered, Amazon takes cahrge of picking, packing and shipping it. In addition, they provide the customer service infrastructure. In addition to saving your company time and money, Amazon FBA allows you to scale your business naturally as you grow and reach out to new customers.
Consider Third-Party Fulfillment
While it may seem expensive to contract shipping to a third party, it can actually result in significant cost savings. If a third party handles fulfillment, the e-commerce website does not have to pay fixed costs for the building’s rent, insurance or utilities. It also helps to lower the number of staff members needed throughout the year. This allows labor to be pay-as-you-go since the company only pays for the orders that are processed. For larger companies, a standard warehouse and shipping program will work. Smaller businesses will want to consider using third-party services to maximize their budget.
Provide Buyers With Multiple Shipping Options
Many companies only ship out their products once each day. For eight out of ten buyers, this process is perfectly fine. Unfortunately, one buyer out of ten will want free delivery. Another 10 percent of buyers will want next-day delivery. If an e-commerce cannot offer alternative delivery options and shipping speeds, they could end up missing out on 20 percent of their sales. Buyers want options, and it is important to provide them with the choices that they need.
Skip on Package Tracking for Smaller Items
For big ticket items, a signature or other verification help to ensure that the item is delivered on time. In addition, it saves the company money if a customer tries to scam the business by saying that the item was not delivered. For cheaper items, package tracking may not make sense. The amount it costs to pay for tracking is often more than the potential losses a business would incur by replacing the item. By running a cost-benefit analysis, companies make sure that they track packages in a cost efficient way.
Strive for Smaller Carton Sizes
Most carriers charge for the volume of the item and the weight. Due to this, e-commerce companies should focus on shipping items in the smallest package possible. There are actually cartonization software programs available that can help to analyze the order and determine the proper carton size. If one item may damage the other item in the package, the software will recommend that two cartons be used. This automation improves the efficiency while boosting the experience of the end user.
Increase Efficiency by Sending Bulky Items to a Different Warehouse
Many e-commerce websites sell products that range in size from a large couch to fishing lures. During peak shopping seasons, some companies send their largest items somewhere else. Retailers can leverage third-party logistics companies to ship larger items instead of using up space at the main warehouse. During peak season, core operations can be scaled much higher by shipping smaller items that are easy to package.
Utilize Pop-Up Space for Extra Storage Area
For most of the year, e-commerce companies can manage without getting extra space or workers. During the holiday season and peak shopping times, order volume can increase exponentially. To maximize efficiency and ensure that every customer gets their product on time, it is important to find pop-up spaces. An e-commerce company can rent out an additional warehouse for storing inventory during the holidays. For smaller companies, renting a storage unit, additional office space or a storage container can provide the same benefit. Your company’s goal is to maximize your revenue while reducing costs. For an e-commerce business, improving your shipping process can significantly boost your bottom line. Faster shipping techniques, programs like Amazon FBA and flexible storage help you to streamline the shipping process. Other e-commerce fulfillment techniques like gift wrapping, easy returns and flexible shipping options help to create return customers and boost the user’s experience. If you are considering ways to boost your e-commerce business and need working capital to fund them, contact Lendvo.com for help.
Modify the Way You Handle Products at the Warehouse
For e-commerce companies, the organization of the warehouse is the key to efficiently fulfilling orders. Some companies create an active location where common items are stocked within the warehouse. Instead of searching the warehouse for these items, the worker can just pick them off the shelf. This minimizes their travel time and increases the efficiency of the entire operation. Once the items are removed from the active location, they can be restocked for future shipments. At larger companies with thousands of SKUs, a consolidation process may be the most effective method. Workers quickly learn to recognize specific SKUs when they work in the same area. With this type of system, the worker just puts the requested SKU on a conveyor belt or similar device. Later on, another worker consolidates the items that are about to leave the facility. While a company that ships just 1,000 orders a day may not be able to justify this method or the machinery needed, a business that ships 100,000 orders per day will need a heightened level of automation.
Use UPS’s Online Tool for Managing Export Regulations
Most countries require tariffs and taxes on imports and exports. For new and established e-commerce companies, navigating these international markets can be a challenge. Although it is relatively unknown, there is actually a service offered by the United Parcel Service (UPS) that helps companies to navigate these complexities. By expanding internationally, companies can access more customers. To do so, they must figure out the shipping regulations in different territories.
Look for Warehouse’s With Higher Ceilings
The goal of e-commerce is efficiency, which is why there is a trend toward 36-foot clearance heights. Companies want to have higher clearance heights because it lets them create three-level picking systems. The e-commerce site is able to lower their geographic footprint while saving money on storage. This trend is especially common in parts of the country like Los Angeles or New York City where real estate is especially valuable. By minimizing square footage, companies lower their real estate costs while maximizing their storage place.
Get Creative With Storage
With an e-commerce company, inventory and prepared shipments can take up a significant amount of space. During the holiday season, companies fill their warehouses in advance in a hectic rush through the fulfillment process. For the best e-commerce fulfillment, make sure that additional storage options are available. Smaller companies may be able to handle the influx of orders with an extra bedroom, garage or storage unit. For larger companies, a shipping container can be rented as a temporary storage option. Unfortunately, there can be a gap between receiving payments for an item and renting the storage unit. To cover the costs in the interim, companies can use working capital loans from Lendvo. This helps to cover the additional costs of getting storage space, and the loan can be repaid once the products are sold.
Consider Changing Your Warehouse’s Location and Staffing
Normally, an e-commerce facility requires three times more employees than normal regional distribution center. While a distribution center ships out pallets of the same product, an e-commerce facility will often send single boxes through the mail. This means that there need to be more employees available to prep, track and send each item. An e-commerce center will need a better heating, cooling and electrical infrastructure to send packages and keep employees comfortable, so properties should be considered that offer these qualities. In addition, e-commerce companies need to consider where their customers and the postal service are located. For lower shipping prices and faster shipping, e-commerce sites should be located as close to their customers as possible. They should also consider the location of the United States Postal Service or package delivery company. Being close to the package delivery company will ensure faster shipping times and better labor efficiency for employees. For even faster delivery times, e-commerce websites may want to locate near the carrier’s primary hub.
Streamline the Fulfillment Process
The main thing that customers want is flawless execution. They want to click the order button online and have their purchase at their doorstep without a problem. Consumers are used to walking into stores and immediately walking out with the items that they want. This has created an expectation for flawless, fast shipping and fulfillment. While some customers want to have same-day delivery, other customers are willing to wait for their package to arrive. If possible, try to fulfill the client’s order within one or two days. This is not always possible, but retailers still have options. As long as the company communicates the shipping time to the customer, there generally is not a problem. Customers want to know when the package will arrive, so they are more willing to wait if they know right away that it could take a week or longer. As retailers ship out products, they should keep in mind that customers may need to use the box to return their item. Due to this, the shipping materials should be easy to reuse. This allows customers to easily reship the package back to the company if there is a problem. Retailers may also include the return address in the package so that the customer can just place the address on the box and return it easily.
Provide Customers With Rewards and Loyalty Programs
Customers love earning rewards and getting special discounts. Brick-and-mortar stores typically use reward cards and loyalty programs to bring in customers. For e-commerce websites, the same techniques apply. A discount, freebie or other reward helps to bring in new clients. Send out a discount card in the package, and the customer will be more likely to become a returning customer. VIP treatments and little gifts help to create frequent buyers and a valuable customer base.
Ensure Easy Returns
No business owner wants to see a product returned to their office, but it happens. While e-commerce products are less likely to be returned than brick-and-mortar sales, customers will need to return items occasionally. Before the customer buys the product, make sure that they know how they can return it easily. Customers want an easy, convenient return process. Make the return policy easy to find and guide customers through the process. To make returning items easier, companies can place a return label in each shipment. Instructions should also be included about how the item can be returned. Customers hate to wait for store credit or their returned funds, so make sure to include a description of how long it takes to return their money after the product ships. If the customer knows when to expect their funds, they are more willing to wait. Clients will still be unwilling to wait three or four weeks for their money, so try to speed along the return process as quickly as possible.
Offer Gift Wrapping and Personalized Options
Whether it is the holiday season or just a birthday, customers want to have more packaging options for their gifts. One of the most popular options provided is gift wrapping. This makes it seem like a cashier is directly connecting with the customer by wrapping and handling the package. Among e-commerce fulfillment services, gift wrapping ranks as one of the most effective ways to improve customer satisfaction. While gift wrapping is an excellent service to offer, many customers are ordering for themselves. For these clients, gift wrapping is unnecessary. E-commerce companies can add a personal touch to their packages by writing out personal messages by hand. Some retailers write out greeting cards for gifts, and other companies just include a handwritten “thanks” on the receipt. One candle company even uses sealing wax on its packages for a customized touch. All of these options help to create the impression in the customer’s mind that a person on the other side personally handled, wrapped and sent their package.